I remind myself: Long conversations without the word virus or shelter will return. My friends hips, legs and feet will return. Days not slashed through with the same universal grim will return. Diane will return, washing my hair and rubbing deep into my scalp before she cuts off all the ratty ends. Noisy bars will return so I can lean in close to Joe and Elaine to complain about our old ears before clinking my glass to theirs. My hands will not forget their use and comfort. My lips and tongue.
I like the ones fringed in pink, I told my friend yesterday as we walked through the sunny cemetery, envious of the crowded flowers and tangled green branches.
A tulip at twilight. A place to rest my heart.
Crazy things are happening with this virus, the police officer said.
Maybe because there are fewer witnesses for our crimes. Maybe because violence feels ignored on our peaceful streets and wants its due. Maybe because fear and anger have unhinged us and accountability is a quaint, old-timey notion.
Or maybe it was just a tired cigarette that fell from the mouth of a man digging for a ten cent can under the old wooden eaves.
One neighbor was carried limp to a stretcher on the sidewalk. Another stood safe across the street with us watching the fire have its feast.
We are okay but we are not okay.
I’ve been walking more in the evening because the sidewalks are a bit less busy, and the new leaves all go translucent gold and then the light turns lush blue, kissing everything goodnight.
No words. Just this mess.
Who knows the when or if of anything so I am letting go of practicing my buono serras and per favores. Tuscany is again covered in somedays. I’ll stick to studying the language of stem, leaf and tree skin. An alphabet 8 million letters long, each of them a different tone of silence.
A single bouquet of red-rimmed carnations hangs on the chain link fence erected to keep people out. More flowers sit at the base of the electric pole under the “We Love Amber” poster. No one can pass without slowing down to look at the charred destruction. Crows grab giant tufts of insulation piled near the fence, drop them, pick at them, then fly away empty-mouthed.